Check out the work of legedary New York ad man George Lois. His website has a ton of stuff to look at (check out the adverts page) as well as his sometimes nutty-sounding commentary on his work. I love the 1968 cover featuring Muhammad Ali as Saint Sebastian the martyr. It's so loaded, my semiotics meter is red-lining. This particular cover hit the news stands as Ali was being attacked for dodging the Vietnam draft for religious reasons.
Click on the Pirelli Ad above to read about this campaign. The over-the-top Italian vixens are a classic use of sex-sells. You can watch the tv ads here as well.